Many have fallen in love with Himachal because of Abhinav Chandel (Abhiandnow), the Instagrammer/travel photographer whose posts are our daily inspo, and a travel guide to the beautiful regions of north India. We spoke to him about everything travel and his sure-shot tips to be a successful travel photographer. By Japleen Kaur

1. Let’s start with the basic. What does it take to start travel photography?

Here are my top five tips:

a. Travel as much as you can, and by travel I mean travel in your surroundings and not just 1000 kms away from your town. Travel photography is all about capturing the moment, capturing the feel of a place, and you can start it with your hometown and places around.

b. When you travel, try capturing a place in a way that it brings forth the essence of it to those viewing the pictures, giving them an idea about the journey and the destination.

c. Try being true to your own experience. What makes travel photography interesting is that it gives you a space to put out your own perspective. So showcase that to the world, bring out your experience in front of them — just the way you saw the place.

d. Start slow. Travel photography needs an initial investment, like a good camera device, and money to be able to travel around. So get a job and start travelling on weekends; start slow but steady and then build up on it.

e. Create a blog/portfolio page, for there’s no point of clicking pictures and not being able to share them with the world (if you want to be a travel photographer). Travel photography requires time to blossom and start paying back. You need to be patient.

2. Why did you shift to Himachal? Would you relocate to any other place in India?

I think I never shifted to Himachal, but I shifted to Mcleodganj. I had been to Himachal a few times before I first visited Mcleodganj, and I never felt like shifting to Himachal, since I belong to Uttarakhand, and shifting to the mountains would always mean shifting back to my home state. But however, during my subsequent trips to Mcleodganj, I discovered something amazing about the place along with the Himalayas, clean air and great views. I realised the town is a melting pot of many cultures around the world, a place for the most brilliant conversations, a place where new ideas are respected and people are busy building a wholesome life for themselves instead of just running after money and that’s what pulled me in.

I am still looking for a place like Mcleodganj where I could shift, but as of now Gangtok is a close competitor. I really liked Bangalore too, but you know, the Himalayas were missing.

3. Writing or photography — what are you better at?

I would say writing because I started it five years before I got into photography, and I think I wouldn’t be a photographer if I wasn’t a writer first.

4. How does one stand out in this field?

By being true to your vision. I think more than the thought of standing out, one must go forward with the thought of doing what they really want to, and putting out something they really relate to. And once you create something that you already love creating, you can pour your individuality in it and then it stands out by itself without you forcing it.

5. Three photographs you really want to capture?

Northern lights in Iceland, Mt Kilimanjaro in the night and a chapters from New York City.

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During my life in Dharamsala, a few days seem like I'm living inside a movie set. And this particular afternoon I was inside the sets of Forrest Gump. . I was out for a scooty ride around Andretta village, which is famous for its pottery, and a wrong turn brought me to a village I had never been to before, but a village with dense vegetation, as if I had suddenly been transported to Konkan region, where old houses with slanted roof were hidden between a dense jungle, where one could imagine mist filled evenings during monsoons. And then I took another wrong turn, which brought me right in the middle of fields with a backdrop of Dhauladhar Himalayas. It was as if I was moving through portals, going between different places with every wrong turn. But who was I to complain, and so I stood there in the fields, and stared at the view, and wait for Tom Hanks to emerge from the fields. He didn't. But a smile surely emerged upon my lips. . For the life in Dharamsala is something beyond my dreams.

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6. The best compliment you have received so far for your work?

I remember I was stuck in a landslide in Spiti, and I put up a insta story about how my usual workday looks like, and a friend I really look up to messaged me saying that no matter what’s happening in the world, he always sees me doing what I really want to, and carving my own path. And that really touched me, and I still remember it.

7. How do you cope with exhaustion?

I sleep. I meditate. Or, I just go out for a walk. I also listen to my favourite songs. I think we get exhausted with the complexity of things around us and the only way to move out of it is to make life simple again.

8. What are we going to see next on your feed?

Hopefully a lot of trek pictures. I had an injury last year because of which I couldn’t walk properly or trek for a long time, and now there’s nothing much I long for than walking up in the high mountain trails.

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Some days all you feel like doing is going far away from your city and landing up somewhere, where life is a slow paced moment that you can be lived in its entirety while maintaining a smile on your lips. And some days that hope, that this smile exists for you somewhere, is what continues to lead you onwards in this life, as if every moment you're living is nothing but a preparation towards that moment where you'll be able to identify the moment, and leave for it. And you'll find a sense of bliss rushing through your veins, as if a drug injected into you by the beautiful imaginations of your mind, which will then be converting into a reality, ready to be lived up to its truest potential by you. And so some days are not just another Sunday afternoon, but a little bit more than that. They are the hope that you live for.

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9. One celebrity that you would want to do a photo-shoot with?

I would do it up in the Himalayas; and I think I would either go with Sana Fatima Sheikh or Priya Bapat.

10. Three gadgets that amateur photographers need to have in their bag at all times?

Camera cleaning kit because a dirty lens can sometimes completely ruin an award-winning shot. A tripod, specially for night/low-light photography, or for great landscape shots. And, an extra battery always allows you to capture more.

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10:30 PM We had trekked for 10 hours till this point, and still had an hour to go before we reached the base camp, but @manpreetdeswal and I were already 45 minutes ahead of rest of the team, still with enough energy left after crossing a km long snowfield in the dark. So we decided to take a break, while waiting for others, and it was then I looked up to realise that I was doing something I had never done before. We were trekking on snowfields under the winter arm of milky way, and the snow was glowing under the starlight, while the faint silhouette of greater Himalayas were staring at us far away. . . . It was a moment I'd remember forever, something that was as beautiful as life changing it was, and I was glad that I had Manpreet Bhai with me to share this moment with.

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11. Your best piece of work so far?

I think my first ever astro-photography attempt! I caught a shooting star in it, and even though it was probably the worst of my astro pictures, I still think it was the most satisfying one, for how excited I was after clicking it.

12. What do you absolutely hate and love about Instagram?

The unrealistic expectations it gives you at times, where people start comparing themselves to others without seeing the struggles they’ve gone through, and want to achieve the same things without walking the lengths that others have. And, I love the number of friends I’ve made via Instagram.

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Happy Holi everyone! . So this Holi, I'm visiting Sangla valley, where Holi celebrations happen in the form of Faguli festival, which marks the Spring season. And today, as a part of festivities, a group of men dressed as characters from Ramayana, followed by elders and younger ones from Sangla village, were visiting villages in the outskirts of Sangla region. So we joined in all the fun. And we went from village to village, dancing, singing, shouting with happiness, having snowfights when the colour was over, and in every village we were joined in by the locals, where we'd folk dance to the folk tunes, and were treated by villagers with Chilta, a bread made out of locally grown buckwheat, along with some tea. And then, we'd leave again, walking in knee deep snow, jumping over streams, ready to celebrate with people in the next village. And to put things in perspective, the celebrations have just begun, and are going to be wilder in coming days. . . . Also the most beautiful part about Holi celebrations here, there's no harassment, no one forces you for anything, and everyone is filled with so much innocence and joy that it just elevates you to a different plain of happiness.

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Related: This 23-Year-Old from Mumbai Quit her Job to Prove that an ‘Insta Life’ in the Mountains is Not Impossible!